SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Protests heated up outside a meeting of the University of California regents Wednesday morning as officials gathered to discuss budget concerns raised by a recent audit.
Money was the big topic for the regents meeting in San Francisco after an audit revealed millions of dollars in a secret fund.
They’re hoping the board of regents will roll back a tuition increase approved in January. It would cost students an extra $300 a semester starting this fall.
At the UC schools on the quarter system that amount jumps to $336 for the entire school year.
The recent state audit revealed some bombshells about how the system has been handling its money.
Among the issues were that UC failed to disclose $175 million in funds, has providing exorbitant salaries and benefits and interfered with the audit by changing the responses to surveys.
Protesters had a lot more on their minds. Many were there to show their opposition to the tuition hikes, but they also were taking a stand against racism on campus and in support of AFSCME Local 3299, the union that represents UC workers.
UC students broke down a symbolic wall outside the meeting.
“We’re fired up! We can’t take it anymore!” said UC San Diego student Refilwe Gqajela. “We’re really tired. We don’t do this for fun.”
“I think it’s a greater sense of the UC not supporting us and the UC treating us like we are a part of their business,” agreed UC Irvine student Taylor Chanes.
Inside the meeting, dozens of people spoke out on topics ranging from workers’ rights to fossil-fuel divestment. Many gave a vote of no confidence to the board.
UC President Janet Napolitano did apologize after the audit and promised to implement reforms. But in the meantime, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget holds back $50 million dollars from the UC system.
“And I put the $50 million in there so we can hold their feet to the fire,” said Brown last week. “We’ll keep the money until they perform to the auditor’s satisfaction.”
Tomorrow: the UC Board is tasked with voting on a budget.
“Funds from tuition is ongoing. Students are at the university for at least four years, so that it why we are advocating certainly for more money from the state to help with enrollment. To help with the cost of teaching,” said Dianne Klein, Press Secretary to UC President Janet Napolitano
A proposed tuition rollback will be a part of the conversation.
Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who is on the board, tweeted “The board must reverse its tuition decision.”
Another proposal up for a vote tomorrow would cap out-of-state student enrollment at 18 percent.